Diagnostic Breast Exams in Sonora

Administering technologically advanced exams with care

Adventist Health Sonora’s Center for Breast Health offers two locations for diagnostic procedures, both equipped with advanced, full-field digital mammography systems and staffed by skilled and compassionate professionals. Studies show that full-field digital mammography produces better results, detects details and helps us pinpoint disease. Plus, our technology provides women with the advantage of reducing radiation exposure by 20–30 percent compared to conventional film systems.

Mammography

Our MAMMOMAT NovationDR has a large detector, which means, in most cases, only one exposure is necessary for a complete breast image. Its unique compression paddle means less painful compression because only the pressure necessary for optimal image quality is applied. In addition, the use of a product called MammoPad provides a softer, warmer mammogram.

3D tomosynthesis

Also called digital mammography, 3D tomosynthesis is an advanced form of breast imaging that is used alone or in conjunction with 2D mammography. Multiple x-ray pictures are taken of each breast from many angles. The images are sent to a computer, which combines the images into a 3-dimensional picture that allows doctors to see breast tissues more clearly. Studies suggest that 3D tomosynthesis may detect cancer earlier, particularly in women with dense breast tissue that makes it difficult to see abnormalities. It also reduces the number of false positives and “call-backs,” in which women are asked to come back for additional testing because of something that looked questionable on the original mammogram. 3D tomosynthesis can be used for a screening mammogram or a diagnostic mammogram.

How to prepare for digital mammography

On the day of your exam, do not use deodorant, perfume or lotion anywhere from the waist up before the exam. Such items can mimic disease on the mammogram.

You will be asked to remove your clothes from the waist up and put on a cape or gown. You may be asked to remove your jewelry as well. There are secure lockers for your use in the mammography dressing rooms.

If possible, avoid scheduling your mammogram just before your menstrual period, especially if you have breast pain at that time. If you have breast implants, please inform the scheduler when making your appointment so that she can reserve the appropriate amount of time for your exam.

What to expect during the exam

A digital mammogram generally lasts about 10–15 minutes. During a mammography exam, the technologist positions the patient to image the breast from different angles and compresses the breast with a paddle to obtain optimal image quality.

Unlike film-based mammography, digital mammograms produce images that appear on the technologist's monitor in a matter of seconds. With digital mammography, the radiologist reviews electronic images of the breast using special high-resolution monitors.

The radiologist can adjust the brightness, change contrast and zoom in for close-ups of specific areas of interest. This digital capability potentially saves additional time and reduces exposure to radiation.

If the radiologist sees any areas that need additional images, our nurse navigator will call you to make arrangements.

Breast biopsy

We utilize a GE Essential full-field digital system, GE's flagship mammography product, for both recall mammograms and stereotactic breast biopsy. When a screening or recall mammogram shows a breast abnormality, a stereotactic breast biopsy or ultrasound-guided biopsy may be used to diagnose the mass or lesion.

With stereotactic mammography or ultrasound-guided biopsy, a technologist can pinpoint the exact coordinates of the abnormality. This allows the specially trained radiologist to insert a small needle directly to the lesion and remove small tissue samples.

How to prepare for breast biopsy

On the day of your exam, do not use deodorant, perfume or lotion anywhere from the waist up before the procedure. You will be asked to remove your clothes and dress in a hospital gown. You may be asked to remove your jewelry as well. There are secure lockers for your use in the dressing room.

If possible, avoid scheduling your biopsy just before your menstrual period, especially if you have breast pain at that time. If you have breast implants, please inform the scheduler when making your appointment.

What to expect during the procedure

The breast health nurse navigator is with the patient every step of the way. Staying at the patient’s side throughout the entire procedure, our nurse navigator provides loving support, offers helpful information, and coordinates next steps.

A stereotactic biopsy is an outpatient procedure that generally lasts about 60 minutes. During the procedure, patients either lay on their side or sit in a specially designed chair.

Several images of the breast are taken, and computer coordinates of the lesion established. Local anesthetic is injected into the breast before the radiologist guides a small needle to the lesion.

Another image is taken to confirm that the needle tip is within the lesion and several samples of tissue are removed.

A small marker may be left at the site of the lesion to aid future procedures, if necessary. Once the radiologist has completed the biopsy, a small dressing is applied to the skin. If a marker is used, a mammogram is used to make sure it is in the right position.

After the procedure, a pathologist studies the tissue samples to diagnose the lesion and notifies the referring physician about the results. Patients receive a phone call from either their physician or the nurse navigator, who will discuss the results.